Catholic Health Care in the Americas Theme of 2003 World Day of the Sick

Annual Vatican Event to be Held in US for the First Time

January 16, 2003

“The Path to Solidarity: The Vocation of Health Care in America” is the theme for the 11th Annual World Day of the Sick, to be held here in February 2003.

Participants from around the world — particularly from the nations of the Americas, including bishops, health care leaders, and a delegation from the Vatican — will gather in the nation’s capital February 9-11 for dialogue and study. The program will close with a Mass and anointing of the sick on February 11, 2:30 pm at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass is open to the public.

The World Day of the Sick, under sponsorship of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, is celebrated each February, culminating on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11) to give thanks and recognition to those in the health care ministry, to provide an opportunity for reflection on the Church’s teaching on health care, and to pray for those who are sick. Previous observances have been held recently in India and Australia. This will mark the first time the event is held in the United States.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, is the host for World Day of the Sick and chair of the event’s executive committee. Rev. Michael D. Place, STD, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), is chairing the World Day of the Sick Administrative Steering Committee, which includes representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The three-day event will include a dialogue among bishops from the Americas at USCCB headquarters; a study day for all registered participants at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center; and the anointing of the sick at the National Shrine. Because of limited space for the study day, attendance will be on a first-come, first-served registration basis.

“This will be a rare opportunity for us to hear from church and health care leaders from other nations in the Americas, to see our similar challenges, and to learn from our common experiences,” Father Place said.

World Day of the Sick begins at 9:00 am, Sunday, February 9, with a Mass at the Basilica, celebrated by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, USCCB president. A keynote address will be given by Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council, later that day.

The February 10 study day includes a pair of keynote addresses: “The Call to Justice, Globalization, and Catholic Health Care in the Americas,” given by Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee, and “The Call to Fidelity: Bioethical Issues and Catholic Health Care in the Americas,” given by Bishop John C. Nienstedt, STD, of New Ulm, MN. Each keynote address will be followed by a panel discussion on the topic. Archbishop Lozano will deliver the closing address, “The New Paradigm: The Position of the Health Pastoral Council on Bioethics.” The day will conclude with a liturgy celebrated by Cardinal McCarrick.

More information is available at

Susan Gibbs
Office of Communications
[email protected]